Tameika is a girl who belongs on the stage. She loves to act, sing, and dance—and she’s pretty good at it, too. So when her school announces their Snow White musical, Tameika auditions for the lead princess role. But the other kids think she’s “not quite” right to play the role. They whisper, they snicker, and they glare. Will Tameika let their harsh words be her final curtain call? Not Quite Snow White is a delightful and inspiring picture book that highlights the importance of self-confidence while taking an earnest look at what happens when that confidence is shaken or lost. Tameika encourages us all to let our magic shine.
Many fairy tales depict a world of predominantly blonde heroines with twinkling blue eyes and a fair complexion. This is problematic and an unrealistic view of the world we live in today.
Seeing oneself is an affirming moment, but for little girls of color, this mirror image is as rare as Cinderella’s glass slipper fitting properly. We all crave representation and deserve access to reflections of ourselves, and that is why I’m excited by this book: Not Quite Snow White by Ashley Franklin illustrated by Ebony Glenn.
When little Tameika auditions for the role of Snow White, she overhears kids saying she’s “too chubby” and making comments about her having brown skin. They whisper and giggle and stare at her which in turn causes Tameika to second guess her decision about playing the lead role.
I adore this book for so many reasons. It shows all marginalized kids that everything is possible. Tameika auditioning for the role of Snow White is powerful not only for readers of color, but for everyone, enabling us to see beyond the dominant images of White protagonists in childhood stories and fairy tales.
It is revolutionary that fairy tales and stories represent children of all colors. With her brown skin, and kinky hair, Tameika is the furthest from classic Disney fantasies—but closest to my reality. Hopefully all children (and adults) reading this book will realize that we can become our wishes and dreams, and that we’re worthy of being seen despite what others may think or say.
I think this book is a winner! It has great read aloud appeal, beautiful illustrations that inspire, and messages about body positivity, acceptance, self-love, bravery, diversity and inclusion. Ages 4-8 and up.
Synopsis Ever wonder why there’s a little pink eraser on every pencil? Find out in this funny, clever picture book that tells the true story of how Pencil and Eraser became the best of friends.
When Pencil draws on the pages of this book, Eraser erases parts of Pencil’s work, and the book itself becomes a canvas for their different takes on creativity—until the two discover their artwork is even better when they work together.
From Karen Kilpatrick, Luis O. Ramos, and illustrator Germán Blanco, When Pencil Met Eraser brings to life something kids use every day at school and at home. Engaging art, adorable characters, and a clever ending create a memorable message about friendship and creativity.
More About the Book Like its artists, the book’s titular heroes wriggle out of their comfort zones as they learn to coexist in the same space and create together as one adds while the other subtracts. As Pencil and Eraser competitively draw and erase, the book itself becomes a 4th-wall-bending battleground between the two. Kids will delight in seeing how each spread uses both characters to create a work of art, with clever additive and subtractive scene manipulations.
The ultimate message of embracing teamwork shines through the animated-style art, reminiscent of enduring classics like The Dot and the Line. Moreover, as the story experiments with composition, texture, and color, it serves both curious young artists and those just discovering the joy of collaboration.
Check out When Pencil Met Eraser when it publishes in May 2019!
About the Authors and Illustrator Karen Kilpatrick has been telling and writing stories for as long as she can remember. A former attorney who left the legal industry for the toy industry, she is also the author of the Pumpkinheads children’s book series and cocreator with her two daughters of the toy brand, MeBears. She lives in South Florida with her three kids.
Luis Osvaldo Ramos, Jr. was born and raised in Tampa, Florida, and graduated from University of Central Florida and University of Miami Law. He’s an attorney at law and a kid at heart who practices law during the day and writes and consumes stories in his free time. He and his wife currently live in South Florida with their very cute but very demanding orange cat.
Germán Blanco has been using pencils all his life. Erasers, too. He unknowingly began his artistic career as a kid by doodling in school whenever he was bored. (Sorry, Mom!) He later became a graphic designer but he found his passion in illustration. When he’s not drawing, he enjoys watching movies and playing football (AKA soccer).
Spring has sprung here in the Northeast and is our area is now bursting with lush gardens and flowers in bloom. Mother Nature has certainly given us lots of rain this season so far. The rain has been great for all the plants, trees and flowers despite it dampening my mood and thwarting my plans at times.
Two weekends ago, the kids and I had the pleasure of attending an event at Winterberry Gardens located in Southington, CT. Their 16-acre garden and landscape center is gorgeous! They have everything from native plants to unique plants all planted by certified growers.
I will admit years ago I didn’t have a green thumb to save my life. Every plant I had died. Now, I’ve learned how to take care of plants after much research, reading and watching videos online. Now that I have Winterberry Gardens as an additional local resource that’s an added bonus!
To help provide you with ideas for your home or garden Winterberry Gardens offers tours of their landscapes gardens and they host educational seminars. They also have a wide selection of hanging plants, trees, soil, mulch, perennials and annuals. Oh, and did I mention they do landscaping too? Yes, their expert landscape designers can create a plan for you that’s both stunning and easy to maintain no matter the size of your yard or budget.
I’m so excited with the new plants I purchased from Winterberry Gardens and will be going back soon to buy more and attend their upcoming educational seminars.
If you’re local in the area be sure to check out this amazing garden and landscape center. It’s a one-stop-shop for all of your lawn and garden maintenance needs. It would make an excellent educational field trip with kids and the local library (Southington Public Library) is just 10 minutes away.
Synopsis One afternoon, eleven-year-old Titan, his friends from the Wild Boars soccer team, and their coach rode their bikes to explore local caves. They crawled through the narrow tunnels in the dark to reach the center of the cave. When they turned to go home, heavy rains had flooded the tunnel. They were trapped!
With rising waters and monsoon season upon them, time and oxygen were running out. The world watched with bated breath as rescuers from around the globe joined forces to try to free the boys. After eighteen harrowing days, in an unprecedented effort of international teamwork, they were finally saved.
Reflection Eleven-year-old Chanin grew up being obsessed with soccer. At the age of six he started playing and joined the Wild Boars soccer team a few short years later. Nicknamed “Titan” by his family after the powerful giants of Greek mythology, he was known for his strength which made him an asset to the team.
On June 23, 2018 Titan and eleven of his teammates entered the Tham Luang Nang Non Caves along with their soccer coach in search of adventure. The storied “hidden city” within the cave excited the boys so they went in search of it. Little did they know they’d be spending 18 days trapped (June 23 – July 10) there underground surrounded by stone cold water and little oxygen with no food.
While reading this book I felt a range of different emotions from sadness to nervousness to sheer excitement! This story is not only captivating, but it’s informative too. It’s so interesting to read the details about how the team members all made it out alive. What an incredible journey for the soccer team, their coach and all of the rescuers/volunteers involved! This is an amazing story of bravery, perseverance, teamwork and community. The illustrations by Dow Phumiruk are so vivid will take your breath away. Each illustration really helps to bring the story to life.
The back matter has more information about the cave rescue including a timeline and other fascinating facts. For example: while being trapped in the cave, four of the boys missed their birthdays. There is also a brief interview with British divers Chris Jewell and Jason Mallinson. An inspiring non-fiction book not to be missed this year.
Watch the Book Trailer!
About the Authors Susan Hood is the award-winning author of many books for young readers, including Ada’s Violin, Shaking Things Up, and Lifeboat 12. She is the recipient of the 2017 E.B. White Honor Award, the 2017 Christopher Award, the 2017 Américas Award, and the 2017 Bank Street Flora Steiglitz Straus Award, given annually to “a distinguished work of nonfiction which serves as an inspiration to young people.” Visit susanhoodbooks.com.
Pathana Sornhiran was born in Bangkok, Thailand, where she attended the Faculty of Arts at Chulalongkorn University with a major in English and French. She later completed her master’s degree in journalism in London, UK and now works as a journalist in Asia, traveling across the region to find and tell stories that matter.
About the Illustrator Dow Phumiruk was born in Bangkok, Thailand and came to the United States with her family when she was very young. Her mother was a nurse, and her father, a retired Royal Thai Air Force captain. He worked for Thai Airways for many years, which allowed her family many trips back to Thailand when she was younger. Dow currently lives in Colorado with her husband and three daughters. She is an author and illustrator of children’s books and has been a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators since 2011. Dow is also a general pediatrician who teaches medical students part time. When she is not creating or teaching, she likes to hike the trails near her home. Visit her at artbydow.blogspot.com
In partnership with Familius, I am thrilled to be revealing the cover for the forthcoming August 2019 book Marvin’s Monster Diary 2: ADHD Emotion Explosion by Dr. Raun Melmed and Caroline Bliss Larsen.
Synopsis Meet Marvin, a lovable monster with a twelve-stringed baby fang guitar, a rambunctious case of ADHD, emotions that sometimes overwhelm him (and others), and a diary to record it all. While Marvin got it together in Marvin’s Monster Diary: ADHD Attacks, his lab partner Lyssa’s emotional roller coaster is a bit out of control. Can he help her—and win the Science Scare-Fair—before she explodes?
In the same humorous spirit of Diary of a Wimpy Kid comes Marvin’s Monster Diary: ADHD Emotion Explosion Using the “monstercam” and “ST4” techniques developed by Dr. Raun Melmed of the Melmed Center in Arizona, Marvin’s Monster Diary: ADHD Emotion Explosion teaches kids how to be mindful, observe their surroundings, and take time to think about their actions. Marvin’s hilarious doodles and diary entries chronicle his delightful adventures, misadventures, and eventual triumph in a funny, relatable way. It’s the series on ADHD that kids will actually want to read!
Marvin’s Monster Diary: ADHD Emotion Explosion also includes a resource section to help parents and teachers implement Dr. Melmed’s methods, plus ST4 badge reminders that kids can remove, color, and place around the house.
Check out Marvin’s Monster Diary: ADHD Emotion Explosion when it publishes in August 2019!
About the Author Raun D. Melmed, MD, FAAP, a developmental and behavioral pediatrician, is director of the Melmed Center in Scottsdale, Arizona, and cofounder and medical director of the Southwest Autism Research and Resource Center. He is the author of Autism: Early Intervention; Autism and the Extended Family; and a series of books on mindfulness for children: Marvin’s Monster Diary: ADHD Attacks, Timmy’s Monster Diary: Screen Time Stress, Harriet’s Monster Diary: Awfully Anxious, andthe next in the series, Marvin’s Monster Diary 2 (+Lyssa): ADHD Emotions.
Disclaimer: I was provided with a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. As always, all opinions expressed are my own.
Hair Love by Matthew A. Cherry, illustrated by Vashti Harrison
Publisher: Kokila, an imprint of Penguin Young Readers Format: Hardcover Pages: 32 Age Range: 4 – 8 Grade Level: Preschool – 3
Synopsis It’s up to Daddy to give his daughter an extra-special hair style in this ode to self-confidence and the love between fathers and daughters, from former NFL wide receiver Matthew A. Cherry and New York Times bestselling illustrator Vashti Harrison.
Zuri’s hair has a mind of its own. It kinks, coils, and curls every which way. Zuri knows it’s beautiful. When Daddy steps in to style it for an extra special occasion, he has a lot to learn. But he LOVES his Zuri, and he’ll do anything to make her — and her hair — happy.
Reflection Twist outs. Braid outs. Wash and Gos. Bantu knots. Locs. Afros. Braids. Top Knots. Ponytails. Today’s natural haired beauties are embracing their kinks, coils and curls more than ever before to express their style. Just ask little Zuri. She wants to have the perfect hairstyle to welcome her mother home. Armed with an iPad, hair products and her dad, she ends up finding the perfect look.
I adore this book for so many reasons. First, it showcases a Black father in a positive light bonding with his daughter doing her hair. We don’t see this enough, especially in the Black community. I personally think a father caring for his daughter’s hair isn’t a loss of masculinity. In fact, I think women admire men even more who take the initiative to learn how to do hair. I love how Zuri’s dad steps up to the plate and figures out what needs to be done to do his daughter’s hair in his wife’s absence.
With the help of social media, Zuri’s father learns how to comb, part, oil, twist, and style Zuri’s hair. This experience allowed Zuri to bond with her dad in an entirely new way, and likely instilled a deep pride about the heritage in her hair.
One thing I notice with my husband is he likes to bond with our kids by playing, roughhousing, teaching them a skill or a sport. But Hair Love shows that fathers talking to their daughters about their hair is an entirely new way to bond. Just like my daughter, many girls love to see and spend time with their dad. So when a father actually does a good job on his daughter’s hair she’ll likely respond with, “Yeah, my daddy did my hair!”…now that’s bonding.
I also love how Zuri’s dad tells her that her hair is beautiful.
Daddy tells me it is beautiful. That makes me proud. I love that my hair lets me be me!
When I was younger I remember people used to always use the word “nappy” to describe natural Black hair. That word was thrown around a lot during my childhood by children and grown-ups and I never liked it. Since becoming an adult and embracing my own natural hair, I no longer use that word to describe my hair or anyone else’s natural hair. You have to be mindful of the things you say to children and teach them about self-love at an early age like Zuri’s dad.
I also think Hair Love does a great job showing readers that being a father is much more than being able to provide for a family financially. Fatherhood sometimes encompasses: cooking, cleaning, AND doing hair. It may also involve showing your daughter how to love herself completely inside and out, how to appreciate her natural beauty, and love everything about herself. Those are things that sometimes men (and women) really don’t think about as being a father.
Lastly, the adorable illustrations by Vashti Harrison make this book a ten on the cuteness scale. Just look at how adorable the front cover is! As always, Vashti does an outstanding job telling the story through her stunning illustrations. A winner!
Hair Tips & Techniques
Learn your daughter’s hair type and what will work best in styling her hair.
Create or find a regimen that works your daughter’s hair and lifestyle. Once you find what works KEEP DOING IT. Consistency is key to growing beautiful, natural hair.
Find people within your family and friends and talk to them about maintenance if you’re unsure.
Utilize social media when necessary. There is a wealth of information online. You can find easy, child-friendly tutorials as well as product reviews.
Browse the hashtag #naturalhair or #naturalhairkids on any social media platform and all kinds of helpful information will be in the palm of your hand.
About the Author
Chicago native Matthew A. Cherry is a former NFL wide receiver turned filmmaker who played for the Jacksonville Jaguars, Cincinnati Bengals, Carolina Panthers, and the Baltimore Ravens. In 2007 he retired and moved to LA to pursue a career in entertainment. Now, he directs music videos and short films, including “Hair Love,” the animated short film on which this book is based. Matthew was named to Paste Magazine‘s list of Directors to Watch in 2016.
About the Illustrator
Vashti Harrison is the author-illustrator of the New York Times bestselling picture book Little Leaders: Bold Women in Black History, which is also a NAACP Image Award winner. She earned her BA from the University of Virginia with a double major in Media Studies and Studio Art, and received her MFA in Film and Video from CalArts where she snuck into Animation classes to learn from Disney and Dreamworks legends. There she rekindled a love for drawing and painting. Now, utilizing both skill sets, she is passionate about crafting beautiful stories in both the film and picture book worlds.
Your turn: How do you teach your children to love their hair? What natural hair tips and techniques would you add to this list? Feel free to share in the comments.
Have you ever wondered how your child can make better use of their downtime while traveling on road trips or running daily errands in the car? Don’t get me wrong, sometimes it’s okay to just look out the window and watch cars or people pass by. However, if you’re looking for a travel tray to help keep kids entertained, I’d highly recommend the one made by AdoraBlue. It’s convenient for kids to eat, draw, watch movies and most importantly it helps keep things organized.
On one side of the tray, there is a station for kids to eat, play with toys (like the AdoraBlue Scavenger Hunter game) read books, or to watch/play on the iPad/tablet at eye level. The erasable side is for drawing, writing and creating. Yes, it’s reversible!
I love the media tablet holder being secured by a zipped plastic pocket to keep it protected from accidental spills. We all know how messy life can get with kids, right? I also like how versatile and portable the travel tray is. You can either use it as a lap desk in the car/stroller, on a plane for various fun activities, or use it indoors sitting on the couch or in a restaurant. The custom design appeals to boys and girls alike. It also has easy access to a large storage with zippers and a built-in bumper to keep your space mess-free whether your child is creating a masterpiece or munching on snacks.
Here are some of the features:
Made of a vegan leather surface that is is easy to clean and soft to the touch.
It buckles either around the child’s car seat or stroller.
It has large mesh storage pockets on the side and a 2 inch wall to stop food, toys, markers or crayons from falling.
It is ideal for short and long trips.
It’s portable! It can also be used indoors at home on your couch or in a restaurant.
Fits most car seats and boosters.
Comfortable, safe and 100% waterproof.
Includes cup holders for baby bottles, water bottles or sippy cups
Erasable board for drawing and expressing creativity.
Contains 3 different stations to play, eat, draw or use the iPad/tablet in a zipped, waterproof casing.